Stirred to action by a particularly stupid and dismissive media generalization about science fiction fans, Rob Hansen has prepared this collection of brief biographies and essays that tell — both in his words and in their own — the stories of fans who have made some impact on the mundane world: Beyond Fandom: Fans, Culture & Politics in the 20th Century.
…In this volume you’ll meet fans who fought in the Spanish Civil War and World War II, and others who were jailed for their pacifist beliefs; fans who marched against the bomb in two separate decades a generation apart, and fans who published the first music fanzines. You’ll meet the fan who became a famous movie critic, the fans who became famous rock stars, learn of the part various fans played in increasing LGBT visibility, and discover who got beaten up by cops and arrested during the Stonewall riots. One fan even became a government minister….
The 72,000-word book is available in multiple electronic formats from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here. (A paperback edition will follow soon.)
The coverage is not only beyond fandom, but beyond the traditional SF-inspired careers in writing, editing, publishing or Big Science, as is evident from chapter titles in the Table of Contents:
Foreword 1. The Anti-Fascist 2. The Pacifists 3. The Warriors 4. The Lesbian Pioneer 5. The Voice of America 6. The Futurists 7. The Painters 8. The Record Company 9. The Folkzines 10. The Aldermaston Marcher 11. The Political Prisoner 12. The Beat Generation 13. The Film Critic 14. The Film Director Swami 15. The King of Greenwich Village 16. The Friend the Beatles Wrote For 17. The Nazi Occupation Movie 18. The Playwright 19. The Kings of Pornography 20. The CIA Pilot 21. The Counterculture 22. The Musicians 23. The Music Mogul 24. The Punk Promoter 25. The Senior Civil Servants 26. The Anti-Nuclear Activists 27. The Government Minister 28. The Trans Icon 29. The Pope’s Astronomer 30. The Professor of Law Afterword Appendix: As Others See Us
The cover shows UK fan Norman Shorrock posing with a BBC camera at the 1957 London Worldcon, in a photo taken by Peter West.
…At present, Roscosmos has committed to continued use and maintenance of the station through 2028 while the other four agencies will remain through 2030. After that, unless there’s another extension, everyone will come home, and the station’s life will end. Of course, we can’t just leave the largest spacecraft we’ve ever built unattended and uncontrolled. Instead, all five agencies share responsibility for bringing the ISS down in a controlled and safe way. No easy task.
Previous plans relied on Russian Progress vehicles to reduce the station’s orbit and push it into the atmosphere. Now, NASA is looking for a bespoke craft to do the job more efficiently. To that end, NASA has released their final Request for Proposals (RFP) for a novel deorbit vehicle to aid in the destruction of the International Space Station.
Interested parties must submit proposals by November 17. A virtual pre-proposal conference is planned for October 3 at 12:00 p.m. Central.
If you’ve ever wanted to destroy an orbiting science laboratory, this is probably your best chance. Who knows when we’ll have another station that needs vaporizing.
… Talabi’s novelette A Dream of Electric Mothers was published in Africa Risen (edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight), which was one of the first anthologies published by a North American publisher focusing on science fiction and fantasy from African authors. He says the public response to the novelette — which explores identity, memory, and culture through artificial intelligence in an alternate history setting — has been gratifying.
“Some people have messaged me to ask if it’s a far-future science fiction story, and I enjoy telling them that it isn’t. It’s an alternate history story,” Talabi says. “I don’t make that obvious because the story uses the traditional Yoruba calendar, not the Gregorian calendar. It actually takes place in an alternate 2021 in a timeline where essentially European colonization of Africa never happened and they formed an intellectual partnership instead … that’s why it seems like a far-future story. Because we’ve made more progress by not fighting.”,,,
(3) WARNING. Ansible® 435, the October issue released today, warns fans:
Ripoff Alert. The US dealer Fifth Generation Books is selling Rob Hansen’s TAFF-benefit paperback Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles on the Walmart website for $43.50 (allegedly discounted from the wholly made-up figure of $50.50), presumably filling orders by buying copies at $22.50 from the official Ansible Editions/Lulu sales page (linked from ae.ansible.uk/?t=bixel). They reproduce the AE blurb in full, including the assurance IN CAPITAL LETTERS that all proceeds will go to TAFF, but somehow one has one’s doubts. [RH]
(4) CHENGDU WORLDCON ROUNDUP. [Item by Ersatz Culture.]
Yesterday (28th) a couple of panels were announced, I think by a children’s book publisher. Most of the names weren’t known to me, but ones that were are academic and author Wu Yan, and Hugo Best Novelette winner Hao Jingfang.
A few photos seemingly taken by a member of the public in the area around the venue were posted to the Xiaohongshu social network earlier today. I think these give a better idea of what it looks like in-person, compared to a lot of the images that have appeared before now.
This 6:45 video from the Chengdu_Plus channel on the Bilibili video site dates from April, and doesn’t directly reference the con or Hugo Awards. However, Best Editor (Short Form) finalist Yang Feng is interviewed, along with a bit about her Best Related Work finalist. The issue of Galaxy’s Edge magazine that features Best Novelette finalist The Space-Time Painter is also shown. Usefully, it has English subtitles and narration.
Note: Sergei Lukyanenko and his work are discussed at the 4 minute mark.
(5) SPACE COWBOY BOOKS CO-HOSTS BANNED BOOKS EVENT. A “Banned Books Reading with Desert Split Open”, co-hosted by Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA is an in-person event that will take place October 1 from 5-7 p.m. Pacific.
The Desert Split Open and Space Cowboy Books will again celebrate Banned Books Week. Let’s meet at the Sun Alley stage, behind the bookstore (61871 29 Palms Hwy, Joshua Tree, CA). We will read from books that have been challenged or banned. What some attempt to silence, we will amplify. All are welcome at this free community event.
The sudden increase in book challenges motivated us to hold last year’s Banned Books Week event. This year, the situation is worse:
“The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data more than 20 years ago. … Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.” (ala.org)
This is not just an issue for “Red” states – in fact, in 2022, California saw 32 attempts to restrict access to 87 different titles. The most challenged title in CA was a tie between Gender Queer: A Memoir and Beyond Magenta.
Now, more than ever, we must speak up – not just against censorship but in favor of diverse voices and stories.
Slotted in between items on a recent Associated Press news round-up that mentioned the impeachment inquiry into President Biden and the looming government shutdown was the report that the Oscar Meyer brand was again changing the name of its famous…vehicle.
The Wienermobile was renamed the Frankmobile only four months ago. But the meat-maker, apparently caving to pressure from the Hotdoggers—those who drive the thing and were upset by the change—has reverted the name back to Wienermobile.
Roll out the bun puns. Like, “I guess Frankmobile didn’t cut the mustard.”
…Today, Oscar Mayer maintains six of the 23-foot-long motorized sausages across the US. The custom-made fiberglass dog sits atop a lightly toasted fiberglass bun on a converted Chevrolet chassis with a 300-horsepower Vortec V8. It was designed by the General Body Company of Chicago….
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born September 29, 1934 — Stuart M. Kaminsky. Though best remembered as a very prolific mystery writer for which I single out the Toby Peters series about a private detective in 1940s Hollywood and the Inspector Porfiry Petrovich Rostnikov series about a Moscow police inspector, he does have genre works. He did two Kolchak the Night Stalker graphic novels, plus wrote the scripts for two Batman stories, “The Batman Memos” and “The Man Who Laughs”. As an editor, he’s responsible for the On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe anthology. (Died 2009.)
Born September 29, 1947 — Scott Baker, 76. His first novel, l’Idiot-roi (Symbiote’s Crown), won the French Prix Apollo Award. In addition, he won the World Fantasy Award for his “Still Life with Scorpion” short story. All three of his short story collections and his one anthology are French only, though all of his novels are in English.
Born September 29, 1952 — Lou Stathis. During the last four years of his life, he was an editor for Vertigo. He had a fascinating work history including collaborating with cartoonist Matt Howarth by co-writing the first few issues of Those Annoying Post Bros. (Kindle has them available.) He was also a columnist and editor for Heavy Metal and a columnist for Ted White’s Fantastic magazine during the late Seventies through early Eighties. His fanwriting included the “Urban Blitz” column for OGH’s Scientifriction (the first installment appearing in 1977, Issue 9, page 29). (Died 1997.)
Born September 29, 1954 — Shariann Lewitt, 69. First, let me commend her for writing one of the better Trek novels in Cybersong set in the Voyager verse. Bravo, Shariann! Most of her fiction, be it Memento Mori or Rebel Sutra is definitely downbeat and usually dystopian in nature. Well written but not light reading by any means.
Born September 29, 1961 — Nicholas Briggs, 62. A Whovian among Whovians who started out writing Who fanfic. First off he’s the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in the new series of shows. Well not just them as he also voices the Judoon, the Ice Warriors, the Nestene Consciousness, the Jagrafess and the Zygons. Second he’s the Executive Producer of Big Finish Productions, the audio drama company that has produced more Doctor Who, Torchwood and other related works that you’d think possible. Third he did act twice in the Whoverse. Once on Torchwood as Rick Yates on “Children of Earth: Day Four” and The Sarah Jane Adventures as Captain Tybo in “Prisoner of the Judoon” episode. Fourth he’s appeared as himself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
Born September 29, 1968 — Stephen Deas, 55. British writer. He is most known for his fantasy franchise, the Memory of Flames which is set in a fantasy world inhabited by dragons. Yes, more dragons! Though dragon free free, I highly recommended his Thief-Taker’s Apprentice series as well. Good fantasy doesn’t always need dragons, does it?
…The excitement doesn’t just stop at the return of Tennant. A cherished post-show tradition is making a grand comeback after a long hiatus of 12 years. As whispers and wonders swirl around, an official post from BBC Three’s Instagram has put all speculation to rest. Yes, the behind-the-scenes specials are back! Giving fans an intimate look into the creation and the intricate details, the series, aptly named Doctor Who: Unleashed, is all set to satiate the curiosity of aficionados and novices alike….
(9) BOOK REVIEW. From the New York Times: “Empire Of The Sum: The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator, by Keith Houston”. Daniel Dern notes, “I don’t necessarily feel the need/urge to read the book, but I love the title (which called to mind JG Ballard’s book Empire of the Sun, and while that book is not itself sf, Ballard of course wrote lots of sf, in case one wants a modicum of sfnality for items beyond simple, ‘an amusing pun.’).”
Star Trek: Prodigy‘s final Season 1 comes to Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, and ComicBook.com has an exclusive look at one of the home media set’s bonus features. Star Trek: Prodigy: Season 1 – Episodes 11-20 is available to pre-order now on Blu-ray and DVD from Amazon and features more than 45 minutes of features diving into Star Trek: Prodigy‘s creation and place within the Star Trek franchise. The “Creating New Wolrds” clip sees series creators Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman discussing how consistently impressed they are with the Star Trek: Prodigy art team’s ability to go beyond their expectations, with director Ben Hibon chiming in toward the end. You can watch the clip above….
NASA’s audacious Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission has serious technical flaws and “unrealistic” assumptions about its budget and timetable, an independent review found in a report released yesterday. Originally estimated to cost some $4 billion, the reviewers found that NASA’s share of the mission could end up costing between $8 billion to $11 billion, and that launch could happen no sooner than 2030, 2 years later than now planned.
A joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), MSR would gather rocks collected by the Perseverance rover, which has been drilling samples since it landed on Mars in 2020. MSR would then rocket the samples off the planet and ferry them to Earth, where scientists would study them for signs of past life and planetary evolution. The top priority of planetary science for several decades, it remains a worthy goal and one still worth pursuing, especially in light of similar sample return plans for Mars planned by China for later this decade, according to the review report, which was commissioned by NASA.
(12) MEASURING DELAYS CAUSED BY STRIKES. After 5 months, the writers’ strike has come to an end. On that note, JustWatch summarized how it influenced the number of delays of movies and TV shows of original productions of various streaming services.
Global streaming giant: Netflix is the most affected by the writer’s strike with 3x more production delays than Apple TV+. Other major US streaming services: Max, Prime Video and Disney+ all suffer, collectively taking up 27% of the total content disruption for streaming platforms in the country.
The first trailer for “Kingsman” and “X-Men: First Class” filmmaker Matthew Vaughn new spy film “Argylle” has arrived, and it’s hardly what anyone expected. The trailer begins as a standard spy thriller with Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa getting into some sexy spy shenanigans, but then the story pulls back to reveal they’re characters in a book written by a spy novel author played by Bryce Dallas Howard.
The problem? What she thinks is fiction is actually happening, and now real-life spies are after her for outing their dealings…
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Dan Bloch, Bill, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Ersatz Culture, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]
Rob Hansen surveys the early presence of women in UK science fiction fandom, identifies the UK’s first known female fan, and shows the lead-up to the fanzine Femizine (1954-1960) – the first true rallying point for female British fans — in Generation Femizine, the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads.
The 67,000-word book, compiled from the participants’ own words, is available in multiple electronic formats from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.
In this compilation, each major contributor is represented by a mini-biography and a photograph, followed by a selection of her writings in Femizine and/or contemporary fan publications. Rob Hansen supplies necessary context and commentary, tells how it all ended, and adds appendices dealing with the male response (reviews in professional sf magazines), the Great Hoax, the full bibliographical details, and an international listing of “Female Fannish Firsts”.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword
Femizine (not to be confused with the later similarly-titled US zine Femzine) was launched at SUPERMANCON, the 1954 Eastercon, held that year in Manchester. The idea of an all-female fanzine had been bubbling up for a while and several letters had passed between Frances Evans, Joan Carr, and Ethel Lindsay shortly before the convention in which they decided it was time. Carr volunteered to edit the zine and a flyer was produced in time for the con, with the first issue appearing soon afterwards. As can be seen from the cover photo (taken at the event by Eric Bentcliffe) there was a certain amount of excitement among female fans at this finally happening.
As is now widely known, “Joan Carr” did not exist (see Appendix 2). She was created as a hoax to be played primarily on the Nor’west Science Fantasy Club (NSFC), who then met regularly in Manchester….
A printed paperback edition is also available, released simultaneously with the ebook: click here for more. All proceeds from paperback sales go to TAFF.
You can learn all about the con and the kerfuffles in Rob Hansen’s 1965: The Second UK Worldcon, the latest addition to TAFF’s library of free downloads.
The 61,500-word book, compiled from contemporaneous participants’ own words, is available in multiple electronic formats from the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they also hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund. Find it here.
Rob Hansen has compiled this history of the 1965 London Worldcon from contemporary fanzine and magazine accounts, so that once again the complex story emerges from the participants’ own words, together with Rob’s explanatory notes and commentary.
Coverage includes the fan politics and intrigue which didn’t stop with the winning of the 1965 bid for London and featured some dirty tricks; excerpts from convention publications and fanzine reports of major speeches and panels; a banquet menu including “crottled greeps”; and what would have been an epic verbal battle between John W. Campbell and Michael Moorcock if the latter hadn’t been so hungover that John Brunner had to do most of the talking.
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword
LONCON II was organised by SFCoL, the Science Fiction Club of London, the last UK Worldcon to be run by such a small group of fans. But who exactly were the members of SFCoL, what was the group all about, and why were they also known as the Scottish Fan Club of London? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in this volume, as well as discovering what Operation Andy Capp was, why there was so much drama around the drama award, which noted writer demanded whisky from inside a Dalek, and why the Rolling Stones didn’t perform at the convention.
The formidable Ella Parker was the convention chairman (yes, that was her title) and only the fourth woman to chair or co-chair one of the twenty-three Worldcons to date; the first was Julian May in 1952.
Ansible Editions David Langford is conducting an experiment this time around, at Rob’s suggestion. They are releasing the free ebook (donations to TAFF encouraged) and the trade paperback (all proceeds to TAFF) simultaneously.
Langford also draws our attention to this special point of File 770 interest: “What Rob calls the Hugo Hullabaloo resulting from the initial decision not to give a Hugo for dramatic presentation, which duly outraged Harlan Ellison. Who at one stage issued a Statement (quoted by Rob) with many numbered points including two 5) and two 11). Yes, years before Vox Day was born, Harlan invented the tradition of the First and Second Fifth….”
(1) MARVEL VS DC: CONTEST OF THE CHAMPIONS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] BBC Radio 4 has just broadcast a documentary (just under half-hour) on DC and Marvel Comics. Most of it fans will already know, but there are some things in there folk might not! For example, I never knew that at one time, DC copied Marvel’s grittier art style despite internal management misgivings. You can access it here.
Marvel and DC, the two titans of America superhero comics, have been locked in cosmic battle for over six decades – raging across publishing, radio, TV, movies, gaming and animation.
It’s one of the greatest rivalries in the history of pop culture, ferociously debated by generations of readers, fans and industry creatives alike.
While both companies are now worth billions, this wasn’t always the case.
This feature goes back to their early comic book roots, where DC comics and young upstart Marvel both had offices in 1960s Manhattan – and yet differed widely in their approach to the genre, posing very distinct ideas of what our superheroes should be – and as a result, what it means to be human. Do we want to look up to the skies or do we really want to see a reflection of ourselves? Are our heroes other, outsiders like gods – or are they basically people like us, who gain strange powers but keep their flaws? Readers had a choice.
The creative rivalry between Marvel and DC comics has always been more than a question of sales or market share. It is a fascinating culture clash of ideals, morals and even politics. It has constituted one of the greatest post-war, pop-culture wars of our times.
The cover photo from the London Festivention (1951) shows the editors of six of the seven fanzines then being published in the UK. From left to right: Mike Tealby (Wonder), Derek Pickles (Phantasmagoria), Fred Robinson (Straight Up), Walt Willis (Slant), Bob Foster (Sludge), Vince Clarke and Ken Bulmer (Science Fantasy News).
From Rob Hansen’s Foreword
Surprisingly, there were five conventions organized, announced, and held in the UK during World War Two despite travel under wartime conditions being a difficult and sometimes dangerous affair. For example, the train taking Cardiff fan Terry Overton to one of those conventions pulled out of the station during an air raid as bombs rained down on his (and my) home city. The NORCONs were only cons in the most basic of senses but 1944’s Eastercon was the most ambitious convention the UK had ever seen, as you will discover.
What would the landscape of horror be like without the famous monsters? For decades, audiences have screamed, laughed and even sometimes jeered at the creatures lurching across the screen. Some nightmares are done so well that they haunt you for years. Others look so cheap and tacky that they become famous for how terrible they look.
We’ve collected a dungeon full of classic horror and sci-fi flicks with “monster” in the title. You may recognize some of these movies from Svengoolie! See if you can complete their full, frightful names.
U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón on Thursday revealed her poem that will fly to Jupiter’s moon Europa aboard NASA’s Europa Clipper mission.
The big picture: The mission follows in the tradition of others — like NASA’s Voyagers — that have sent pieces of art representing humanity into the cosmos.
What’s happening: The poem uses water as a thread that binds Earth — and all of its humans — to Europa, a moon with an ocean beneath its icy shell.
“We are creatures of constant awe, curious at beauty, at leaf and blossom, at grief and pleasure, sun and shadow,” Limón writes. “And it is not darkness that unites us, not the cold distance of space, but the offering of water, each drop of rain.”
The poem is going to be engraved in Limón’s handwriting and affixed to the spacecraft, expected to launch in October 2024.
(6) MEMORY LANE.
1987 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Lawrence Watt-Evans’ “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” story is where our Beginning comes from this Scroll. Though Mike of course selected it, I too have read it with great delight.
So the story won a Hugo at Nolacon II, and had a Nebula nomination as well.
It was published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in their July 1987 issue.
I’m going to praise him for having up-to-date social media and for dropping out of Twitter. Check out the links to those sites from his ISFDB page
So here’s the first chapter of that story….
Hamburgers Harry’s was a nice place–probably still is. I haven’t been back lately. It’s a couple of miles off I-79, a few exits north of Charleston, near a place called Sutton. Used to do a pretty fair business until they finished building the Interstate out from Charleston and made it worthwhile for some fast-food joints to move in right next to the cloverleaf; nobody wanted to drive the extra miles to Harry’s after that. Folks used to wonder how old Harry stayed in business, as a matter of fact, but he did all right even without the Interstate trade. I found that out when I worked there.
Why did I work there, instead of at one of the fast-food joints? Because my folks lived in a little house just around the corner from Harry’s, out in the middle of nowhere – not in Sutton itself, just out there on the road. Wasn’t anything around except our house and Harry’s place. He lived out back of his restaurant. That was about the only thing I could walk to in under an hour, and I didn’t have a car.
This was when I was sixteen. I needed a job, because my dad was out of work again and if I was gonna do anything I needed my own money. Mom didn’t mind my using her car – so long as it came back with a full tank of gas and I didn’t keep it too long. That was the rule. So I needed some work, and Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers was the only thing within walking distance. Harry said he had all the help he needed–two cooks and two people working the counter, besides himself. The others worked days, two to a shift, and Harry did the late night stretch all by himself. I hung out there a little, since I didn’t have anywhere else, and it looked like pretty easy work – there was hardly any business, and those guys mostly sat around telling dirty jokes. So I figured it was perfect.
Harry, though, said that he didn’t need any help.
I figured that was probably true, but I wasn’t going to let logic keep me out of driving my mother’s car. I did some serious begging, and after I’d made his life miserable for a week or two Harry said he’d take a chance and give me a shot, working the graveyard shift, midnight to eight A.M., as his counterman, busboy, and janitor all in one.
I talked him down to 7:30, so I could still get to school, and we had us a deal. I didn’t care about school so much myself, but my parents wanted me to go, and it was a good place to see my friends, y’know? Meet girls and so on.
So I started working at Harry’s, nights. I showed up at midnight the first night, and Harry gave me an apron and a little hat, like something from a diner in an old movie, same as he wore himself. I was supposed to wait tables and clean up, not cook, so I don’t know why he wanted me to wear them, but he gave them to me, and I needed the bucks, so I put them on and pretended I didn’t notice that the apron was all stiff with grease and smelled like something nasty had died on it a few weeks back. And Harry–he’s a funny old guy, always looked fiftyish, as far back as I can remember. Never young, but never getting really old, either, y’know? Some people do that, they just seem to go on forever. Anyway, he showed me where everything was in the kitchen and back room, told me to keep busy cleaning up whatever looked like it wanted cleaning, and told me, over and over again, like he was really worried that I was going to cause trouble, “Don’t bother the customers. Just take their orders, bring them their food, and don’t bother them. You got that?”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 3, 1901 — Maurice Evans. Ahhh the amazing work of make-up. Under the make-up that was Dr. Zaius in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes was this actor. Though this was his most well-known genre role, it wasn’t his only ones — he was in a Thirties Scrooge as poor man, on Bewitched as Maurice, Samantha’s father, on Batman as The Puzzler in “The Puzzles are Coming” and “The Duo Is Slumming”, in Rosemary’s Baby as Hutch, and finally in Terror in the Wax Museum as Inspector Daniels. Oh, and he showed up on Columbo as Raymond in “The Forgotten Lady”. No, not genre — but I love that series! (Died 1989.)
Born June 3, 1905 — Malcolm Reiss. It’s uncertain if he ever published any genre fiction but he’s an important figure in the history of our community as he edited in the Thirties through the Fifties, Jungle Stories, Planet Stories, Tops in Science Fiction and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books. Fletcher Pratt, Ross Rocklynne, Leigh Brackett and Fredric Brown are but a few of the writers published in those magazines. (Died 1975.)
Born June 3, 1905 — Norman A. Daniels. Writer working initially in pulp magazines, later on radio and television. He created the Black Bat pulp hero and wrote for such series as The Avengers, The Phantom Detective and The Shadow. He has three non-series novels, The Lady Is a Witch, Spy Slave and Voodoo Lady. To my surprise, iBooks and Kindle has a Black Bat Omnibus available! In addition, iBooks has the radio show. (Died 1995.)
Born June 3, 1947 — John Dykstra, 76. He was one of the founders of Industrial Light & Magic. That means he’s responsible for the original visuals for lightsabers, the space battles between X-wings and TIE fighters, and much of the other Star Wars effects. Can’t list everything he later worked on, so I’ll single out his work on Battlestar Galactica, the sfx for Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, the visual effects on X-Men: First Class, and visual effects supervisor on Doolittle.
Born June 3, 1950 — Melissa Mathison. Screenwriter who worked with Spielberg on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Twilight Zone: The Movie and the charming BFG, the latter being the last script she did before dying of cancer. She also did absolutely splendid The Indian in the Cupboard which was directed by Frank Oz. (Died 2015.)
Born June 3, 1958 — Suzie Plakson, 65. She played four characters on the Trek franchise: a Vulcan, Doctor Selar, in “The Schizoid Man”(Next Gen); the half-Klingon/half-human Ambassador K’Ehleyr in “The Emissary” and “Reunion” (Next Gen); the Lady Q in “The Q and the Grey” (Voyager); and an Andorian, Tarah, in “Cease Fire” (Enterprise). She also voiced Amazonia in the “Amazon Women in the Mood” episode of Futurama. Really. Truly. By the way, her first genre role was in the My Stepmother Is an Alien film as Tenley. She also showed up in the Beauty and the Beast series as Susan in the “In the Forests of the Night” episode.
Born June 3, 1949 — Michael McQuay. He wrote two novels in Asimov’s Robot City series, Suspicion and Isaac Asimov’s Robot City (with Michael P. Kube-McDowell) and Richter 10 with Arthur C. Clarke. The Mathew Swain sequence neatly blends SF and noir detective tropes – very good popcorn reading. His novelization of Escape from New York is superb. (Died 1995.)
Born June 3, 1964 — James Purefoy, 59. His most recent genre performance was as Laurens Bancroft in Altered Carbon. His most impressive was as Solomon Kane in the film of that name. He was also in A Knight’s Tale as Edward, the Black Prince of Wales/Sir Thomas Colville. He dropped out of being V in V for Vendetta some six weeks into shooting but some early scenes of the masked V are of him. And let’s not forget that he’s Hap Collins in the Sundance series Hap and Leonard which was steaming on Amazon Prime before the idiots there pulled it.
(9) JEOPARDY! [Item by David Goldfarb.] Friday’s episode of Jeopardy! had a category in the first round called “Their Middle Initial”, where each clue gave us a person’s given name and surname and asked for…oh, you guessed.
The $1000 level was:
Of sci-fi and fantasy author Ursula Le Guin
One of the contestants did in fact know it.
(10) SPACE CHOW. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Nope, it’s not Rice-A-Roni. But, this San Francisco firm is competing in the Deep Space Food Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. The goal is to find ways to meet the food needs of astronauts on long-term space missions, such as one to Mars. Making the food interesting (as well as nutritious) is important from a psychological standpoint. “Does this look appetizing? If you go to Mars, it may be your meal” at CNN Business.
As part of a NASA competition called the Deep Space Food Challenge, a San Francisco based design firm shows CNN its ideas for tasty treats astronauts can grow themselves and even grill while on a long flight to Mars.
(11) JUSTWATCH. Here is the sff that JustWatch found people had on their screens in May.
A newly opened dinosaur exhibition in Atlanta based on the blockbuster series of “Jurassic Park” movies has been temporarily shut down after an intruder broke in and caused $250,000 in damage, the police said. One man is in custody.
On Monday, officers from the Atlanta Police Department responded to a burglary call at Jurassic World: The Exhibition, where a manager said he discovered several exhibits had been damaged, according to a police report.
The exhibition, which has made stops in North America, officially opened Friday at Pullman Yards, a large entertainment venue east of downtown Atlanta. The show promises to immerse audiences in scenes inspired by the films and features life-size dinosaur models.
Officials for the exhibition said security footage showed four suspects before they entered the property on Sunday night. One suspect was later seen “sitting on top of one of the dinosaurs ripping off the skin covering,” the report said….
… Michael Mattox, the executive vice president of Animax Designs, the company in Nashville that constructed the dinosaurs, told Fox5Atlanta last week that it took 18 months to design and build them.
About 140 artists, engineers and other creative people were involved in the production of the dinosaurs, he said.
Researchers from Kyoto University in Japan have determined that wood from magnolia trees could be the ideal construction material for a satellite due to launch into space next year.
Test results from a recent experiment aboard the International Space Station among three wood specimens revealed magnolia to be the most versatile. The samples, which were exposed to the harsh conditions of space for 10 months, returned to Earth this past January.
Analysis showed magnolia experienced no decomposition or damage like cracking, peeling, or warping. Furthermore, there was no change in the mass of the wood samples before and after their exposure in space….
A Boeing official said Thursday that the company was “standing down” from an attempt to launch the Starliner spacecraft on July 21 to focus on recently discovered issues with the vehicle.
Mark Nappi, vice president and program manager for Starliner, said two spacecraft problems were discovered before Memorial Day weekend and that the company spent the holiday investigating them. After internal discussions that included Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun, the company decided to delay the test flight that would carry NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the International Space Station.
“Safety is always our top priority, and that drives this decision,” Nappi said during a teleconference with reporters.
The issues seem rather serious to have been discovered weeks before Starliner was due to launch on an Atlas V rocket. The first involves “soft links” in the lines that run from Starliner to its parachutes. Boeing discovered that these were not as strong as previously believed.
During a normal flight, these substandard links would not be an issue. But Starliner’s parachute system is designed to land a crew safely in case one of the three parachutes fails. However, due to the lower failure load limit with these soft links, if one parachute fails, it’s possible the lines between the spacecraft and its remaining two parachutes would snap due to the extra strain.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, David Langford, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
….What you don’t know is what happens when they mess up Harrison Ford’s eggs. The plates come, two Farmer’s Breakfasts. Mine’s good: over easy. As Ford cuts into his first poached egg, I’m asking, “So would you say the character of Indiana Jones has some of your own boyhood—”
He lays down his fork and knife. His shoulders droop in defeat.
The egg white is rubbery, the yolk chalky. He looks up at me.
“You couldn’t have been clearer,” I say.
The waiter, seeing a problem, scurries over, eager and recoiling at the same time. Ford just looks up at the poor guy, not with anger but with something worse: disappointment. It’s not a mean look. It’s a look that says, “We can do better, friend.”
The waiter is smiling and trying to speak, and he looks as if he might cry. “Are they . . . not soft?” He slinks away. Ford tries to refocus….
…Since these revised mini-Indy movies are appearing on Disney+ for the first time, we picked out the six most important episodes you might want to watch as you count down to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” … though it must be said that every episode is worth your time…
Their list begins with —
My First Adventure
Exactly as the title says, “My First Adventure” is the first adventure of the young Henry Jones, Jr. It begins with a nine-year-old Indy living at Princeton with his parents when his life gets turned upside down when he has to accompany them on a journey around the world. The family heads to Oxford first, where Indy picks up his tutor, Ms. Seymour. They find themselves in Egypt and Indiana Jones helps T.E. Lawrence (yes, the “Lawrence of Arabia”) solve a murder mystery. Then, they travel to Africa, where Indy learns a lot about colonialism, slavery, and languages. It’s a good taste of what the younger side of Indy’s adventures will hold for audiences and an essential introduction to the series.
(3) ANOTHER FIRST FOR EKPEKI. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is the first Black winner of the Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers Award editor Sheila Williams told him today. Part of the reason, she adds, is that they published Octavia Butler’s stories, which won major awards, before the Asimov’s SF Readers Award was created.
(4) IT’S REAL! I’M ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN OF IT! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Prepare for a barrage of proclamations that this is a real ET message, and the government is just covering things up by pretending it’s a test. Pfffft!
For decades, a dedicated international band of researchers has searched the skies in the hopes of finding some sign that humanity is not alone in the universe. They’re engaged in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. So far, the hunt for an alien signal has turned up only falsepositives. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from speculating abouthow people might respond to a real communication attempt. Now, Daniela de Paulis, an artist in residence at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, is simulating just such an alien message to see how humans react and whether they can figure out how to decipher it.
Her group’s project, A Sign in Space, began last week by transmitting a mysterious radio signal from the Trace Gas Orbiter, a European Space Agency craft that’s orbiting Mars. Participating astronomers at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, the Allen Telescope Array in California, and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station in Italy received the signal, removed the telemetry data, and posted the remaining encoded message on the project’s website for anyone to download. Now it’s up to the people of Earth to crack the code, interpret the message, and—de Paulis hopes—make some art. She and her colleagues are leading a series of online workshops to encourage people to discuss the concept of alien communication, including an event she hosted yesterday at which people shared thoughts and artwork inspired by the project so far….
(5) THE MAN FROM GONDOR. A classic fanfic is now available on the ConChord website, The Tenth Nazgul Affair by William Baker Glass, with illustrations by Richard Paul Glass. Barry Gold has made it available in HTML and EPUB formats.
Napoleon and Illya are engaged in a firefight with several T.H.R.U.S.H. agents when Illya is struck by lightning and ends up in Middle Earth. He helps King Elessar Telcontar (aka Strider) fight off Shelob and one extra Nazgul that somehow survived the destruction of the One Ring.
(6) SOMETHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT AI. Rob Hansen says he’s recently begun using A.I. for extrapolated reconstruction of old photos and sent links to work done on pictures of Forties LASFS members. Bill Burns found the online site to do this and produced this enhanced Tigrina image. Then Hansen followed with Art Joquel and Sam Russell.
Rob adds, “These are extrapolations rather than reconstructions, of course, but I think the results are pretty remarkable. Using A.I. for good; who’da thunk it?”
(7) EARLIEST RAY. Phil Nichols has launched a “Chronological Bradbury!” sequence with the latest episode of his Bradbury 100 podcast.
The idea is to work through Ray Bradbury’s fiction output in the order of publication, discussing each item as we go.
In this first “Chronological Bradbury”, I start right at the beginning, with a discussion of Ray’s earliest published works, which appeared in amateur magazines in 1938.
Harry wasn’t a bad person. You just couldn’t take him too seriously, that’s all. Whatever Harry said, whatever Harry did, whatever Harry put down as his meta-ethic, this week, on his Areteprofile, be it the ends justify the means or the greatest happiness for the greatest number or do what thou wilt be the whole of the law,Harry never meant a word. Harry changed his meta-ethic more often than he changed his clothes….
…There’s debate over whether the trolley problem is really the right framing to interrogate ethical choices (specifically whether decisions made in the simulation really reflect what you would choose in real life), and the experiment itself has also been criticized for both its setup and assumptions. But the Moral Machine does provide a fascinating example of an algorithm that observes your ability to make decisions in a handful of tense driving situations, and then spits out a bulleted list of your preferences for saving babies over dogs, and how that compares with the rest of the world (or at least the rest of the people who have taken the test)….
The event is the fourth and final in the series for the Applied Sci-Fi Project, which seeks to understand the influence of science fiction on technology and the people who build it, and to study the ways that sci-fi storytelling can a tool for innovation and foresight.
We’ll be joined by our opening speaker, science fiction and nonfiction author Annalee Newitz (The Terraformers, Four Lost Cities) and four special guests: sci-fi author and futurist Tobias Buckell (Arctic Rising, “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance”); policy expert, foresight consultant and sci-fi author August Cole (Ghost Fleet, Burn-In); anthropologist Amy Johnson, who researches the use of speculative futures techniques at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center; and Tory Stephens, climate fiction editor at Grist Magazine. The panel will be moderated by CSI’s managing editor Joey Eschrich, who will also share his perspective on CSI’s own “Future of X” book anthologies, contests, and other projects.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1998 – [Written by Cat Eldridge from a choice by Mike Glyer.]
Tricia Sullivan is the writer responsible for our Beginning this time.
A US-born author who moved to the United Kingdom in 1995. Four years later, she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novel Dreaming in Smoke which is where we get this Beginning. To date, it’s her one Award won.
She writes SF under her own name and fantasy as Valery Leith. She is a very prolific novelist, writing thirteen novels over a period of twenty-two years.
She’s written a double handful of fiction. Interestingly she stopped getting published six years ago. And she stopped updating her blog seven years ago. There’s a story there, isn’t there?
Dreaming in Smoke is a Meredith Moment at the usual suspects.
So here’s our Beginning…
my man’s gone now
The night Kalypso Deed vowed to stop Dreaming was the same night a four-dimensional snake with a Canadian accent, eleven heads and attitude employed a Diriangen function to rip out all her veins, then swiftly crocheted them into a harp that could only play a medley of Miles Davis tunes transposed (to their detriment) into the key of G. As she contemplated the loss of all blood supply to her vital organs it seemed to her that no amount of Picasso’s Blue, bonus alcohol rations, or access privileges to the penis of Tehar the witch doctor could compensate for having to ride shotgun to Azamat Marcsson on one of his statistical sprees with the AI Ganesh. She intended to tell him so–as soon as she could find her lungs. Ganesh was murmuring through her interface.
KALYPSO, IT’S GETTING TOO LOOSE AND KINKY IN HERE.
‘Did you hear that, Azamat? Keep it off my wave!’ she sent, annoyed at being reduced to verbing. She simply didn’t have the resources to image him, for by now the snake had decomposed into a flight of simian, transgressive bees, which were in the process of liquefying her perception of left and right. Everything seen through her right eye became negative and sideways. The alarming part was that it didn’t seem to make any difference.
Marcsson’s response came back as a series of pyrotechnical arrays, which, loosely translated, meant, ‘Relax. It’s only math.’
I DON’T WANT TO BE YOUR ABACUS, said Ganesh. KALYPSO, GET YOUR DOZE UNDER CONTROL OR I WILL.
The AI had a point. Kalypso mustered her wits and started cutting sensory intake to the Dreamer, feeling a little defensive about Miles Davis. Maybe she shouldn’t have been listening to the jazz Archives; maybe if she’d endured the boredom of monitoring the feeds between Ganesh and Marcsson she could have cut off the sudden explosion of parameters in the Dream the instant it began. But she had been shotgunning Marcsson for a long time, and he had always been safe. Marcsson had been Dreaming since before Kalypso was even born–he knew what he was doing with the AI, which could take data and weave them into Marcsson’s sensory awareness while he floated in a state of semi-conscious, lucid thought. He could immerse himself in literalized math through Dreams that improved a hundred-fold on the raw visions that humanity had experienced in its sleep for eons. He could be secure in his own safety because he had technique.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born June 1, 1914 — George Sayer. His Jack: C. S. Lewis and His Times won a Mythopoeic Scholarship Award for Inkling Studies and is considered one of the best looks at that author. He also wrote the liner notes for the J. R. R. Tolkien Soundbook, a Cadmeon release of Christopher Tolkien reading from excerpts from The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. (Died 2005.)
Born June 1, 1926 — Andy Griffith. His most notable SFF genre credit is as Harry Broderick on the late Seventies Salvage I which lasted for two short seasons. Actually that was it, other than a one-off on The Bionic Woman. It’s streaming for free on Crackle whatever the Frelling that is. (Died 2012.)
Born June 1, 1928 — Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone.British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were with the critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.)
Born June 1, 1940 — René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night Gallery, The Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Enterprise, Stargate SG-1 and Warehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. He directed eight episodes of DS9. And he wrote a lot of novels, none of which I’ve read. Has anyone here read any of them? (Died 2019.)
Born June 1, 1947 — Jonathan Pryce, 76. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote.
Born June 1, 1950 — Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
Born June 1, 1965 — Tim Eldred, 58. Author and illustrator of Grease Monkey, a most excellent humorous take on space operas and uplifting species. As an illustrator alone, he was involved in Daniel Quinn’s superb The Man Who Grew Young
Born June 1, 1966 — David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an appreciation of him here. The Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote withAmy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Poorly Drawn Lines’ Astronaut Bill shows friendship is the best. (And if you go to the link, preceding this date are four or five really great cartoons about various other characters.)
(13) MARRIAGE IS WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER. Actor Alex Kingston remembers her time on Doctor Who as the Doctor’s enigmatic time-travelling wife in “Alex Kingston on 15 Years of River Song”, a feature in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine. This excerpt appears at the link.
“I spoke to Steven [Moffat] on the phone and he said, ‘I’ve got this idea and I need to know if you’re available for it, because if you’re not I can’t write this.’ I let him know when I was available and he told me the outline, but I had to swear not to tell anyone. I’m very good at keeping secrets. Matt, Karen and Arthur had guessed I knew something and tried to persuade me to tell them, but I wouldn’t! Even when we had the script for that episode, the reveal wasn’t in it. They kept those pages out so the crew didn’t know. The actors were given the single pages – I’m not even sure when. And even on shooting day, the pages weren’t there and it was only then, at the last minute, that the crew saw the reveal. They managed to keep the secret and avoid any leaks at all. That takes a lot of doing.”
The season climaxed with THE WEDDING OF RIVER SONG (2011), a game-changer that, despite its title, left the status of the relationship between the Doctor and River up to the viewer’s interpretation. “I still get people going, ‘You’re not really married to him because he was a Teselecta!’” Alex laughs, referring to the shape-shifting craft that had taken on the Eleventh Doctor’s form. “I’m like, ‘Thank you very much, I was married to him. I’m his wife!’”
…The problem with all of these items is that they are quick to purchase, but take a long time to use. You can add a game to your Steam collection in minutes, but chances are most will take you 20 hours or more to play. (Howlongtobeat.com says Tears of the Kingdom takes 52 hours for the main story alone.)
How many more games will you impulse-buy before you’ve finished that one? How many skeins of yarn will you snap up (they were on sale! And so soft!) before you’ve finished the sweater you’re currently knitting? It’s the same problem as the TBR pile, really. And I promise, there is a solution…
…The key to his reading of Orwell is what happened to him in Spain. Though married to Eileen only six months before, he was determined to fight for the Republican cause (“Good chaps, the Spaniards, can’t let them down”) and on his return became far more politically engaged: “at last [I] really believe in Socialism, which I never did before”. But he’d seen bullying and infighting too. For the rest of his life and in his two great novels, this was the war he fought, on behalf of a wholesome, English, sweetly C of E brand of socialism, as opposed to Stalinist totalitarianism….
(16) STRIKES HINDER SCI-FI LONDON. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Sci-Fi-London film fest is now go… But sadly rails strikes made its opening day Wednesday difficult for fans to attend except by bus. Rail strike also on Saturday. Nonetheless hoping to make Sunday’s two sessions of shorts and there’s a free cyber tech exhibition and demonstration there too…. 2023-Hackstock.
(17) JAWS: THE OVERBITE. Check out the WTF! photo of a Goblin Shark at the National Geographic.
Swishing through the deep sea, a goblin shark notices a small, yummy-looking squid. The animal inches toward its prey. But as the fish closes in, the snack starts to dart away. So the shark thrusts its jaw three inches out of its mouth! (The jaw is connected to three-inch-long flaps of skin that can unfold from its snout.) The predator then grabs the squid in its teeth. After scarfing down the meal, the shark fits its jaw back into its mouth and swims off….
…This photo is part of my Fake Holidays series. At the beginning of the project, more than 15 years ago, I went to Lara Beach in Antalya, Turkey, where there is one luxury five-star hotel after another, all along the coastline. On the other side of the road were the tents of the workers who had built the hotels. Luxury hotels are like little ghettoes. You take your plane and your taxi, then you are in the middle of an isolated luxury area.
The Kremlin Palace hotel, where this photo was taken, has an exact copy of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow. I have been to Moscow and seen the original church, which is a focal point – all tourists take a picture there. But here in Turkey, there is a swimming pool in front of the cathedral. I was fascinated. There were many Russian tourists.
I saw a weird guy, an astronaut, walking around the pool. “What’s happening here?” I asked. It turned out the hotel had a huge room with costumes for the entertainers who perform for the tourists. Superman was one of them. I found him by the pool and immediately asked to take his picture. I took about three shots. I chose the photo point, in front of the church with the pool between us, then asked Superman to jump. It was a very childish approach, perhaps, but he did it. The way he jumped was perfect. I felt in the moment: “That’s the picture.”…
…The new super-plume was spied by the James Webb Space Telescope. Previous observations had tracked vapour emissions extending for hundreds of kilometres, but this geyser is on a different scale.
The European Space Agency (Esa) calculated the rate at which the water was gushing out at about 300 litres per second. This would be sufficient to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in just a few hours, Esa said.
Webb was able to map the plume’s properties using its extremely sensitive Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) instrument.
The instrument showed how much of the ejected vapour (about 30%) feeds a fuzzy torus of water co-located with one of Saturn’s famous rings – its so-called E-ring.
“The temperature on the surface of Enceladus is minus 200 degrees Celsius. It’s freezing cold,” commented Prof Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland.
“But at the core of the moon, we think it’s hot enough to heat up this water. And that’s what’s causing these plumes to come out.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Barry Gold, Lise Andreasen, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
What I admire most about Neil Gaiman is his belief in the necessity of storytelling: it’s something we need on a DNA level.
I first read a book by Neil when I was 14 years old. It was Good Omens, his brilliant 1990 collaboration with Terry Pratchett. Two decades later, I got the opportunity to star in the 2013 BBC radio adaptation of Neverwhere. I remember feeling so excited that I was being inducted into his sphere of influence—one that has only grown. It’s fantastic to see Neil’s work gain new fans, most recently with the Netflix adaptation of his award-winning comic-book series The Sandman.
Neil’s point of entry into the storytelling realm is darkly fantastical and occultish. The way he writes makes you feel like you’re being let in on a massive secret. His worlds are hidden, shrouded in mystery, yet they’re never that far removed from ours. They’re always just barely within your peripheral vision—under the street or in a dark building or at the end of a lane. He brings dreamscapes to life.
Fox has ordered the reality series “Stars on Mars,” a new celebrity unscripted series featuring “Star Trek” star William Shatner in a host-like role. The series, set to air this summer, will follow stars as they are suited up to live in a colony set up to simulate what it might be like to be an astronaut on Mars.
“Stars on Mars” premieres on Monday, June 5, at 8 p.m. on Fox. The show comes from Fremantle’s Eureka Productions. The idea centers on the celebrity contestants competing in the Mars-like surroundings until there is just one “celebronaut” left standing. Shatner will deliver tasks to the celebs as “Mission Control.”
… Shatner, in a quippy quote, added: “Thanks to lower gravity on Mars, you’ll weigh 62% less. Bad news: the air is unbreathable, so if you’re from LA, it’ll remind you of home.”
The show will open with the celebrities living together as they “live, eat, sleep, strategize, and bond with each other in the same space station,” according to the network.
Here’s more from the show description: “During their stay, they will be faced with authentic conditions that simulate life on Mars, and they must use their brains and brawn – or maybe just their stellar social skills – to outlast the competition and claim the title of brightest star in the galaxy. The celebrities will compete in missions and will vote to eliminate one of their crewmates each week, sending them back to Earth. Cue the intergalactic alliances and rivalries. ‘Stars on Mars’will send these famous rookie space travelers where no one has gone before and reveal who has what it takes to survive life on ‘Mars.’”…
(3) IS THIS THE CRÈME DE LA CRÈME? Earlier this week the LA Times rolled out The Ultimate L.A. Bookshelf, devoting one of the shelves to 13 works of Speculative Fiction.
For our Ultimate L.A. Bookshelf, we asked writers with deep ties to the city to name their favorite Los Angeles books across eight categories or genres. Based on 95 responses, here are the 13 most essential works of speculative fiction, from Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Aldous Huxley, Salvador Plascencia and many more….
Although these are all books, since two of them are collections of short fiction – Dangerous Visions (1967) and Speculative Los Angeles (2021) – it seems to me there should have been a way to get quintessential LA stories like Heinlein’s “And He Built A Crooked House”, and Niven’s “Inconstant Moon” into the mix. I’ll leave aside Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian” which doesn’t actually say what city it takes place in, though no one has ever had any doubt…
Imagine 2200 challenges entrants to write stories that help envision the next 180 years of climate progress. Whether built on abundance or adaptation, reform or a new understanding of survival, the contest celebrates stories that provide flickers of hope, even joy, and serve as a springboard for exploring how fiction can help create a better reality.
Stories will be judged by a panel of literary experts, including acclaimed authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sam J. Miller.
The winning writer will be awarded $3,000, with the second- and third-place winners receiving $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. Nine additional finalists will each receive $300. All winners and finalists’ stories will be published in an immersive collection on Grist’s website.
Read more and find out how to submit a story here.
(5) FAN HISTORY ZOOM. Fanac.org’s program on “Researching (& Saving) Fan History” with Rob Hansen, Andy Hooper, Mark Olson and Joe Siclari can be viewed online April 22, 2023 beginning at 4 pm EDT, 1 pm PDT, 9 pm BST London, 6 am Sunday in Melbourne, AU. See the details in the poster. To get a link to the program, write to [email protected].
National Public Radio is quitting Twitter after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped NPR’s account with labels the news organization says are intended to undermine its credibility.
Twitter labeled NPR’s main account last week as “state-affiliated media, ” a term also used to identify media outlets controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China. Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media,” but to NPR — which relies on the government for a tiny fraction of its funding — it’s still misleading.
NPR said in a statement Wednesday that it “will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”…
(7) GATEWAY TO ORSON WELLES. [Item by Steve Vertlieb.] Celebrating the genius of this extraordinary artist with my published look at the turbulent life and career of Orson Welles, the fabulous, visionary film maker whose personal demons sadly overshadowed his staggering talent, and finally, tragically destroyed him.
Yet, in spite of his personal failings or, perhaps, because of them, Welles rose to become one of the most remarkable film makers of his, or any other generation.
From his groundbreaking first feature length motion picture Citizen Kane, regarded by many still as the greatest single film in motion picture history, to Touch Of Evil, his remarkable “Cinema Noir” tale of a squandered life and legacy corrupted by bribery and temptation, Welles remains one of the most extraordinary directors in the history of film.
His is a story of unwitting sabotaged achievement and haunting, incomparable genius.
Alison, Liz, John and Alison are live from Conversation! We talk about the convention, in a rather more haphazard way than normal. Art by the amazing Sue Mason.
(9) MORE WRITERS’ RESPONSES TO AI. The SFWA Blog has updated its webpage and now has over 50 SFWA members’ writing and thoughts on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications and considerations. “SFWA Members Weigh in on AI & Machine Learning Applications & Considerations”. In case you looked at the original version, the additions are designated “NEW” to make them easy to find.
SFWA also focused attention on a video is now available from the AI/ML Media Advocacy Summit, a free online event last month that brought together experts and creators to discuss the creative community’s response to AI/ML media generators. SFWA Vice President John Murphy served as a panelist for the writers’ forum, along with moderator Donna Comeaux, Ed Hasbrouck of the National Writers Union, and Mary Rasenberger of the Authors Guild.
With our discipline specific panels we will be talking to a variety of individuals from across the creative industries including visual artists, voice actors, musicians, animators, photographers and writers on the different types of AI media generators and the unique challenges they pose.
(10) VIRGINIA NORWOOD (1927-2023). Physicist and inventor Virginia Norwood, who devised the scanner that has been used to map and study the earth from space for more than 50 years, died March 27. The New York Times obituary detailed the unexpected triumph of her contribution to the first Landsat.
…In the late 1960s, after NASA’s lunar missions sent back spectacular pictures of Earth, the director of the Geological Survey thought that photographs of the planet from space could help the agency manage land resources. The agency would partner with NASA, which would send satellites into space to take the pictures.
Ms. Norwood, who was part of an advanced design group in the space and communications division at Hughes, canvassed scientists who specialized in agriculture, meteorology, pollution and geology. She concluded that a scanner that recorded multiple spectra of light and energy, like one that had been used for local agricultural observations, could be modified for the planetary project that the Geological Survey and NASA had in mind.
The Geological Survey and NASA planned to use a giant three-camera system designed by RCA, based on television tube technology, that had been used to map the moon. The bulk of the 4,000-pound payload on NASA’s first Landsat satellite was reserved for the RCA equipment.
Ms. Norwood and Hughes were told that their multispectral scanner system, or M.S.S., could be included if it weighed no more than 100 pounds.
Ms. Norwood had to scale back her scanner to record just four bands of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum instead of seven, as she had planned. The scanner also had to be high precision. In her first design, each pixel represented 80 meters.
The device had a 9-by-13-inch mirror that banged back and forth noisily in the scanner 13 times a second. The scientists at the Geological Survey and NASA were skeptical.
A senior engineer from Hughes took the device out on a truck and drove around California to test it and convince the doubters that it would work. It did — spectacularly. Ms. Norwood hung one of the images, of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome, on the wall of her house for the rest of her life.
The first Landsat blasted into space on July 23, 1972. Two days later, the scanner sent back the first images, of the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma; they were astounding. According to a 2021 article in MIT Technology Review, one geologist teared up. Another, who had been skeptical about the scanner, said, “I was so wrong about this. I’m not going to eat crow. Not big enough. I’m going to eat raven.”
The RCA system was supposed to be the primary recording instrument aboard the satellite, and the M.S.S. a secondary experiment.
“But once we looked at the data, the roles switched,” Stan Freden, the Landsat 1 project scientist, said in a NASA report.
The M.S.S. proved not only better, but also more reliable. Two weeks after liftoff, power surges in the RCA camera-based system endangered the satellite and the camera had to be shut down….
(11) MEMORY LANE.
1945 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
August Derleth’s “A Word From Dr. Lyndon Parker”
Sherlock Holmes pastiches must be almost as old as the stories themselves. The first credited one was sixteen years after the first Holmes story and was in Greek, Sherlock Holmes saving Mr. Venizelos (Ο Σέρλοκ Χολμς σώζων τον κ. Βενιζέλον). Our Beginning tonight isn’t from a work that old as it’s taken from August Derleth’s In Re: Sherlock Holmes.
It came from the collection of short stories, In Re: Sherlock Holmes, first published seventy-eight years ago in the US by Mycroft & Moran which was an imprint of Arkham House. The imprint was in part created for these stories. Wise choice I’d say.
Pons, a Consulting Detective in the mold of Holmes, exists because Derleth desired so much to do Holmes stories after Doyle ceased that he wrote him and asked if he could. Doyle unsurprisingly said no. The Solar Pons name is supposedly syllabically similar to Sherlock Holmes. Huh.
I like them because Derleth is obviously a fanboy of Holmes and his detective. Pons isn’t Holmes but is what a fan would write if he was creating his own loving version of Holmes.
And now for our very British Beginning…
A Word From Dr. Lyndon Parker
The way in which I first made the acquaintance of Mr. Solar Pons, who was destined to introduce me to many interesting adventures in crime detection, was exceedingly prosaic. Yet it was not without those elements suggestive of what was to come. Though it took place almost thirty years ago, the memory of that meeting is as clear in mind as if it had taken place yesterday.
I had been sitting for some time in a pub not far from Paddington Station, ruefully reflecting that the London to which I had returned after the first World War was not the city I had left, when a tall; thin gentleman wearing an Inverness cape and a rakish cap with a visor on it, strode casually into the place. I was struck at once by his appearance: the thin, almost feral face; the sharp, keen dark eyes with their heavy, but not bushy brows; the thin lips and the leanness of the face in general–all these things interested me both from a personal and a medical standpoint, and I looked up from the envelope upon which I had been writing to follow the fellow with my eyes across the floor to the bar.
A waiter, who was wiping tables next to me, noticed my interest and came over. “Sherlock Holmes’,” he said. “That’s who he is. The Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street,’ is what the papers call him. His real name’s Solar Pons. Ain’t much choice between the two, eh?”
Pons had had a few words with the man behind the bar and now turned to look idly over the room. I looked away as I saw that his glance was about to fall on me, and I felt him examining me from head to toe. I felt, rather than saw, that he was walking over toward my table, and in a few moments he came to stand beside my bag on the floor next to my chair.
“Fine color,” he said crisply. “Not long back from Africa, I see. “Two days.”
“Your scarab pin suggests Egypt and, if I’m not mistaken, the envelope on which you have been writing is one of Shepheard’s. From Cairo, then.”
“On the ship Ishtar.”
“At the East India Docks.”
I looked up and he smiled genially. “But, really, you know, my dear fellow–London is not as bad as all that.”
“I should not like to think so,” I answered him, without at once realizing that I had given him no clue to my thoughts. “Obviously you have been walking.”
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 13, 1931 — Beverly Cross. English playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. Yes librettist. He’s here because he wrote the screenplays for Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. Not remotely genre related but worth mentioning, is that he worked uncredited on the script for Lawrence of Arabia although it is unknown if any of his material made it to the film we see. (Died 1998.)
Born April 13, 1943 — Bill Pronzini, 80. Mystery writer whose Nameless Detective has one genre adventure in A Killing in Xanadu. Genre anthologist, often with Barry N Malzberg, covering such varied and wide-ranging themes as Bug-Eyed Monsters (with Malzberg), Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (with Greenberg and Malzberg) and Arbor House Necropolis. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote “The Pillars of Salt Affair”, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novella that ran in the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine.
Born April 13, 1950 — Ron Perlman, 73. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Hellboy: Blood and Iron and the Redcap short which is elusive to find unfortunately). Still by far the best Hellboy. He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno was followed quickly by being Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and Angel De La Guardia in the Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by the hard SF of being Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff Notes to that correctly. No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. (Having not rewatched for fear of the Suck Fairy having come down hard on it. So who has watched it lately?) At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him even still more amazing.
Born April 13, 1951 — Peter Davison, 72. The Fifth Doctor that I came to be very fond of. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish. And he put a lot of gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. And let’s not forget he showed up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the Dish of the Day. I’m going to note that I first saw him in Tristan Farnon in the BBC’s adaptation of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small stories, a lovely role indeed. And I’m very fond of The Last Detective series where he played DC ‘Dangerous’ Davies.
Born April 13, 1954 — Michael Cassutt, 69. Producer, screenwriter, and author. His notable TV work includes work for the animated Dungeons & Dragons, Max Headroom, The Outer Limits, Beauty and The Beast, SeaQuest, Farscape, Eerie, Indiana and The Twilight Zone. He’s also written genre works including the Heaven’s Shadow series that was co-written with David S. Goyer. His latest piece of fiction was the “Aurora” novelette published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, March/April 2022.
Born April 13, 1954 — Glen Keane, 69. He’s responsible for all of the layout work on Star Trek: The Animated Series and also My Favorite Martians which I can’t say I recognize. As a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios, he worked on Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas.
Born April 13, 1959 — Brian Thomsen. Editor, writer and anthologist. He was founding editor of Warner Books’ Questar Science Fiction, and later served as managing fiction editor at TSR. He co-wrote the autobiography of Julius Schwartz. And yes I’ve actually read one of his anthologies, A Yuletide Universe, as I remember it from the cover art. (Died 2008.)
April 13, 1967 — Rogers Cadenhead, 56. This Filer is a computer book author and web publisher who served once as chairman of the RSS Advisory Board, a group that publishes the RSS 2.0 specification. Very, very impressive. He also gained infamy for claiming drudge.com before a certain muckraker could, and still holds on to it.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side shows what preceded that famous Viking headgear.
(14) RIVERS OF LONDON. Titan Comics has revealed the covers for Here Be Dragons – the next phase of Rivers of London comics, set in the world of the bestselling novel series. For this upcoming series, comic series writers Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) and Andrew Cartmel (The Vinyl Detective) are joined by BAFTA-nominated scriptwriter, and award-winning New York Times bestselling author James Swallow, with artwork by José María Beroy.
Thiscover preview shows the first look at a dangerous monster at large above the streets of London. After a Met Police helicopter on night patrol is attacked by an unidentified aerial phenomena, the Met’s only sanctioned wizard, Peter Grant, and his mentor, Thomas Nightingale, are called to investigate.
Rivers of London: Here Be Dragons issue #1 (on sale in comic shops and digital July 12th, 2023) features covers by series artist José María Beroy, alongside David M. Buisan and V.V. Glass.
That vast repository of American history that is the Smithsonian Institution evolved from an organization founded in 1816 called the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences. Its mandate, the collection and dissemination of useful knowledge, now sounds very much of the nineteenth century — but then, so does its name. Columbia, the goddess-like symbolic personification of the United States of America, is seldom directly referenced today, having been superseded by Lady Liberty. Traits of both figures appear in the depiction on the nineteenth-century fireman’s hat above, about which you can learn more at Smithsonian Open Access, a digital archive that now contains some 4.5 million images.
Just for practice I searched “science fiction” and one of the images that returned was Octavia Butler’s typewriter.
This Olivetti Studio 46 Typewriter belonged to Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006), who wrote science fiction when few black writers did. Butler began writing at age 10 and eventually used a computer to compose, but noted, “I didn’t always. I wrote my first ten books on a manual typewriter of one kind or another….She [my mother] did day work; she made not very much money….here she had a daughter begging for a typewriter.” Butler’s blue typewriter dates to the 1970s….
…Over the following five decades, Vonnegut established himself as one of the most creative and humorous voices in science-fiction. Like an American Douglas Adams, his books would frequently deal with aliens, time travel, and metafiction, but always with the intent of getting to the heart of human nature itself….
The first example on their list is:
1. “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
From Vonnegut’s third novel ‘Mother Night’, it’s a beautiful and quick summation of an appreciation of the stark importance as well as the flimsiness of human identity.
The series will be written and executive-produced by Martin and Ira Parker. Ryan Condal, who currently serves as House of the Dragon‘s showrunner, and Vince Gerardis also will be EPs.
“A century before the events of Game of Thrones, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros,” the official logline reads. “A young, naive but courageous knight, Ser Duncan the Tall” (aka Dunk) “and his diminutive squire, Egg. Set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory, great destinies, powerful foes and dangerous exploits all await these improbable and incomparable friends.”…
(18) A FROZEN FLAME. And if you’d like to see George R.R. Martin posing with his Dragon Award from last year, click on this link to his March 29 blog entry.
My thanks to all of the attendees of last year’s Dragoncon, and to all the Dragon Award voters who chose ELDEN RING as the best game of the year. Like all my friends at From Software, I am thrilled that you enjoyed the play… as challenging as it can be.
We humans have always been explorers. The great civilizations that have arisen across the world are owed to our restless ancestors. These days, there’s not much of Earth left to explore. But if we look up, there’s a whole universe out there waiting for us. Future generations may one day explore the cosmos and even settle entire other galaxies. But there is a hard limit to how much of the universe we can expand into. So, how big can humanity get?
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steve Vertlieb, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
….HadithGPT, for instance, uses hadiths or the narrations of the sayings and life of the Prophet Muhammad to answer questions about Islam. Its responses come with a disclaimer: the answers are AI-generated and may not be accurate, it says. “Islam is passed down from heart to heart and it is important to learn and consult real Islamic scholars for more accurate information.”
Even with this disclaimer, an average person may not have access to an actual scholar they can consult, making it easier to rely exclusively on Sheikh Google or services like HadithGPT, Turk says. The source material is also missing a lot of context typically considered when answering Islamic questions, he added. That includes the human layer of analysis of the hadiths and consideration of other texts such as the Qur’an, as well as scholarly opinions and Islamic jurisprudence. Different schools of thought also give weight to different customs and traditions, he said.
“The hadith are silent on a lot of questions that are more contemporary in nature, Turk said. “It’s much more complicated than just what do the hadiths say in a black and white fashion.”
In other faiths like Buddhism, many practitioners are less text and more practice-centric, making the religion “uniquely situated to shrug” the proliferation of chatbots off, according to the Rev Angel Kyodo Williams, Roshi a Zen Buddhist priest in California.
“There’s a practice centricity that takes all of the text and sets them aside and says, it doesn’t matter how much you read, doesn’t matter what you get out of a chatbot,” Williams said. “That’s not the answer. The answer is in your life: do you feel the truth of those words that you speak? And if you don’t, that’s really the only measure.”…
(3) WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL. Some well-known genre figures will be part of The PEN America World Voices Festival, to be held May 10-13. The event will be led by festival chair Ayad Akhtar and guest chairs Marlon James and Ottessa Moshfegh. Ta-Nehisi Coates will deliver the Arthur Miller lecture which will be livestreamed. Speakers include John Irving, Roxane Gay, Reza Aslan, Min Jin Lee, Sarah Polley, Amor Towles, Padma Lakshmi, Masha Gessen, Jelani Cobb, Ben Okri, Han Kang, Imani Perry and so many more. The festival takes place on May 10-13 both in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and Los Angeles with selected events available online.
With the Worldcon coming to Britain for the first time in roughly a decade, the mainly British-based SF2 Concatenation has a possible suggestion for the committee’s choice of special Hugo Award category.
What special Hugo Award category for the 2024 Glasgow Worldcon? In addition to the set Hugo Award categories, such as Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form, Best Short Story, Best Novel etc., each year that year’s committee organising the Worldcon gets the right to choose a category of their own. Past such Hugo categories have included things like Best Game or Best Art Book. Not all committee-proposed special categories in the past garnered sufficient nomination interest for them to appear on the Hugo Short-List ballot. So really the trick is to come up with a special category that will engage with Hugo Award voters (Worldcon Attending registrants). Here we have an idea…
(5) IT CAUGHT ON IN A FLASH. Space Cowboy Books will host a “Flash Science Fiction Night Online Event” on Tuesday April 25 at 6:00 p.m. Pacific. Register for free here.
Online Flash Science Fiction Reading. Join us online for an evening of short science fiction readings (1000 words or less) with authors Susan Rukeyser, Todd Sullivan, and Tara Campbell. Flash Science Fiction Night’s run 30 minutes or less, and are a fun and great way to learn about new authors from around the world.
Most of the time, when a beloved book is adapted into a film, or even into a television show, a form with a little more elbow room, shall we say, the magic doesn’t quite translate. Which isn’t to say the adaptations aren’t themselves good—it’s just that the books are usually better. Even very very good adaptations, like The Talented Mr. Ripley, can often only manage to be second fiddle to their source material.
But not always. Sometimes the movie really is better than the book. Below, the Lit Hub staff will argue the case for 13 adaptations which (in our humble/expert/individual opinions) manage to eclipse the books they’re based on. Add your own—or tell us why we’re wrong—in the comments….
Sci-fi movies take scientific ideas and theories and make them fun, and in some cases even drive innovation. However, many sci-fi concepts are also flawed from the start. Indeed, many of the genre’s favorite tropes simply don’t comport with what scientists know about the universe….
5. Explosions in Space
Many science fiction movies feature battles between ultra-fast starfighters and enormous starships, with the requisite explosions fans have come to expect. Star Wars was the first franchise to prominently feature deep-space explosions, introducing the trope to its millions of fans.
However, this kind of fiery explosion is impossible outside of an oxygen-rich atmosphere (via Science ABC). It’s satisfying when an evil space station explodes, signaling a dramatic victory for the heroes, and spaceships should carry a substantial amount of oxygen for their air-breathing crew. However, most of the exploding starships fans have learned to accept over the years look nothing like actual explosions in a vacuum. If an exploding ship was moving at high speed, the explosion itself would continue to move at the same speed, and without gravity or friction, it would be much larger than the contained blasts viewers associate with violent deep space justice.
(8) MEMORY LANE.
2006 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Now let’s talk about two volumes of stories that are among the best ones ever done. Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden, and that is where this Beginning is from, and The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice are some of most delightfully female centered tales that pass the Bechdel test continuously.
Bantam Spectra published The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden seventeen years ago as lavishly illustrated by Michael Kaluta who of course would illustrate In the Cities of Coin and Spice too. It would win both an Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award as well as being nominated for a World Fantasy Award.
Observing Valente riffing off the much older A Thousand and One Nights with Scheherazade is a sheer delight. Not saying anything explicit about them, they are connected but they are such that they stand on their own rather well too.
Though they are available as digital publications, I recommend purchasing the two trade paper editions. They make most excellent reading. Really they do.
ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD WHOSE FACE WAS LIKE THE NEW MOON SHINING on cypress trees and the feathers of waterbirds. She was a strange child, full of secrets. She would sit alone in the great Palace Garden on winter nights, pressing her hands into the snow and watching it melt under her heat. She wore a crown of garlic greens and wisteria; she drank from the silver fountains studded with lapis; she ate cold pears under a canopy of pines on rainy afternoons.
Now this child had a strange and wonderful birthmark, in that her eyelids and the flesh around her eyes were stained a deep indigo-black, like ink pooled in china pots. It gave her the mysterious, taciturn look of an owl on ivory rafters, or a raccoon drinking from the swift-flowing river. It colored her eyes such that when she was grown she would never have to smoke her eyelashes with kohl.
For this mark she was feared, and from her earliest days, the girl was abandoned to wander the Garden around the many-towered Palace. Her parents regarded her with trepidation and terror, wondering if her deformity reflected poorly on their virtue. The other nobles firmly believed she was a demon, sent to destroy the glittering court. Their children, who often roamed the Garden like a flock of wild geese, kept away from her, lest she curse them with her terrible powers. The Sultan could not decide—after all, if she were a demon, it would not do to offend her infernal kin by doing away with her like so much cut grass. In the end, all preferred that she simply remain silent and far away, so that none would have to confront the dilemma.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born April 9, 1911 — George O. Smith. His early prolific writings on Astounding Science Fiction in the 1940s which ended when Campbell’s wife left him for Smith whom she married. Later stories were on Thrilling Wonder Stories, Galaxy, Super Science Stories and Fantastic to name but four such outlets. He was given First Fandom Hall of Fame Award just before he passed on. Interestingly his novels are available from the usual digital sources but his short stories are not. (Died 1981.)
Born April 9, 1913 — George F. Lowther. He was writer, producer, director in the earliest days of radio and television. He wrote scripts for both Captain Video and His Video Rangers and Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. (Died 1975.)
Born April 9, 1937 — Marty Krofft, 86. Along with with Sid, a Canadian sibling team of television creators and puppeteers. Through Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, they have made numerous series including the superb H.R. Pufnstuf which I still remember fondly all these years later not to forget Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.
Born April 9, 1949 — Stephen Hickman, born 1949, aged seventy four years. Illustrator who has done over three hundred and fifty genre covers such as Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer and Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood, Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest. His most widely known effort is his space fantasy postage stamps done for the U.S. Postal Service which won a Hugo for Best Original Artwork at ConAndian in 1994. (Died 2021.)
Born April 9, 1954 — Dennis Quaid, 68. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role (but as always I stand by to be cheerfully corrected if I’m wrong) was in Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it.
Born April 9, 1972 — Neve McIntosh, 51. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, she played Alaya and Restac, two Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra in “A Good Man Goes to War”. Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter. She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She’s Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, who together form an private investigator team. Big Finish gave them their own line of audio adventures which I really should listen to soon.
Born April 9, 1990 — Kristen Stewart, 33. She first shows up in our area of interest in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas as a Ring Toss Girl (ok, it wasn’t that bad a film). Zathura: A Space Adventure based off the Chris Van Allsburg book has her playing Lisa Budwing. Jumper based off the Stephen Gould novel of the same name had her in a minor role as Sophie. If you’ve not seen it, I recommend Snow White and the Huntsman which has her in the title role of Snow White. It’s a really great popcorn film. Finally she’s got a gig in The Twilight Saga franchise as Bella Cullen.
(10) FRANK ARNOLD REMEMBERED. Rob Hansen made a discovery that prompted him to remind readers that the first free ebook he put together for the TAFF site was The Frank Arnold Papersin 2017.
I edited this together from Frank’s papers, which had been passed to me after being saved from consignment to a dumpster 30 years earlier and had been gathering dust in my cellar ever since. Though Frank was a minor writer this was reasonably well received and I even had several requests from chums for the apocrypha, the material I hadn’t included in that volume. Needless to say, THE FRANK ARNOLD PAPERS is as close to an autobiography as we’re ever going to see.
Hansen says he’s now discovered there’s also a biography, a long article by Dave Rowe in Outworlds #65 beginning on page 13. It includes details of Frank’s life that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
He was the last regular link with the original London Circle. He was the keeper of the visitors’ book. He was a methuselahic Peter Pan, a pint-sized Mister Micawber. Practically everyone who had passed through The Globe’s and The One Tun’s portals on each months first Thursday night had known him and his radiantly pert smile, yet to quote Arthur 0. Clarke he was also “the most invisible person I ever met!” and Ted (E.C.) Tubb recalled “he was a very lonely person who was unable to allow people into his private world. In other words a typical fan of his time—as are many of his generation.” The number who knew him ‘at home’ could be counted on the fingers of two hands. To visit him there was like stepping into a living time-capsule. Time had ended in the fifties…
… Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shared some disappointing news regarding the future of Obi-Wan Kenobi at Saturday’s Star Wars Celebration in London.
Season 2 of the Disney+ series starring Ewan McGregor “is not an active development,” Kennedy told our sister site Variety, before adding, “But I never say never, because there’s always the possibility. That show was so well-received and [director] Deborah Chow did such a spectacular job. Ewan McGregor really wants to do another….
On March 23, sky observers marveled at a gorgeous display of northern and southern lights. It was a reminder that when our Sun gets active, it can spark a phenomenon called “space weather.” Aurorae are among the most benign effects of this phenomenon.
At the other end of the space weather spectrum are solar storms that can knock out satellites. The folks at Starlink found that out the hard way in February 2022. On January 29 that year, the Sun belched out a class M 1.1 flare and related coronal mass ejection. Material from the Sun traveled out on the solar wind and arrived at Earth a few days later. On February 3, Starlink launched a group of 49 satellites to an altitude only 130 miles above Earth’s surface. They didn’t last long, and now solar physicists know why….
In 2011, nomads roaming the western Sahara encountered precious time capsules from Mars: coal-black chunks of a meteorite, strewn across the dunes. “Black Beauty,” as the parent body came to be known, captivated scientists and collectors because it contained crystals that formed on Mars more than 4.4 billion years ago, making it older than any native rock on Earth. Jérôme Gattacceca, a paleo-magnetist at the European Centre for Research and Teaching in Environmental Geo-sciences, hoped it might harbor a secret message, imprinted by the now-defunct martian magnetic field—which is thought to have helped the planet sustain an atmosphere, water, and possibly even life. But when Gattacceca obtained a piece of Black Beauty and tried to decode its magnetic inscription, he found its memory had been wiped—Men in Black style—and replaced by a stronger signal. He instantly knew the culprit. Somewhere along its journey from Moroccan desert to street dealers to laboratory, the rock had been touched by strong hand magnets, a widely used technique for identifying meteorites.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Cliff, Hampus Eckerman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]
Scientists recently named a mesa-like lunar mountain that towers above the landscape carved by craters near the Moon’s South Pole. This unique feature will now be referred to as “Mons Mouton,” after NASA mathematician and computer programmer Melba Roy Mouton (MOO-tawn).
Members of NASA’s Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The flat-topped mountain is adjacent to the western rim of the Nobile Crater, on which VIPER will land and explore during its approximately 100-day mission as part of NASA’s Artemis program.
The IAU theme for naming mountains (mons) on the Moon focuses on “scientists who have made outstanding or fundamental contributions to their fields.” The lunar landmark naming honors and recognizes Mouton’s life, her accomplishments as a computer scientist, and her contributions to NASA’s missions.
“Melba Mouton was one of our pioneering leaders at NASA,” said Sandra Connelly, the acting associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “She not only helped NASA take the lead in exploring the unknown in air and space, but she also charted a path for other women and people of color to pursue careers and lead cutting-edge science at NASA.”
Mouton was first employed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 1959, just a year after the space agency was established. She became the head mathematician who led a group of “human computers,” who tracked the Echo 1 and 2 satellites, launched into Earth’s orbit in 1960 and 1964, respectively.
A few years later, in 1961, Mouton was the head programmer responsible for the Mission and Trajectory Analysis Division’s Program Systems Branch – the team who coded computer programs used to calculate spacecraft locations and trajectories, giving NASA the ability to track spacecraft while in orbit.
Before retiring in 1973, after a career at NASA that spanned 14 years, Mouton had become the assistant chief of research programs for the Trajectory and Geodynamics Division at Goddard. In appreciation of her dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments, which culminated in the successful Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969, she was recognized with an Apollo Achievement Award.
(2) BSFS REVAMPS COC. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has posted the updated BSFS Code of Conduct, approved by its Board of Directors on February 11. An extensive document, its Introduction says:
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) exists to promote the creation and appreciation of science fiction, fantasy, and related sub-genres, primarily through literary art forms, but also embracing the many related cultural arts in graphical, musical, theatrical, and media forms inspired by speculative fiction. BSFS welcomes all people to be part of the activities we sponsor and to consider becoming one of our members.
We affirmatively welcome individuals who identify with groups based on characteristics such as, but not limited to (in alphabetical order) age, ancestry, citizenship, color, disability status, familial status (including marital status), gender identity and/or expression, immigration status, level of educational attainment, national origin, physical appearance, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and/or veteran status. Attendees at our meetings/events and participants in our social media and/or digital platforms, are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is courteous and respectful of the other people present. By attending a BSFS event, all individuals are required to abide by BSFS policies, including this Code of Conduct, venue policies, and all municipal, state, and federal laws….
After three months on strike, unionized HarperCollins employees will return to work on Tuesday, February 21, after voting 194-10 to ratify a labor agreement with the publisher that includes a higher minimum salary and new benefits.
“We are pleased that the agreement was ratified,” HC said in a statement. “We are excited to move forward together.”
According to Local 2110 of the UAW, the union that represents unionized HarperCollins employees, the contract “achieves improved compensation and benefits, including higher minimums, guaranteed annual increases for everyone rated above ‘unsatisfactory,’ two hours of overtime without approval for lowest paid employees, improved union rights with release time during work hours, paid time to participate in the joint labor-management committee and company’s diversity initiatives, improved paid time off, and ability to continue to work remotely until July 1.”
In terms of minimum salaries, the lowest salary, $47,500, will increase to $48,500 in January 2024 and go up to $50,000 in January 2025. More details of the agreement can be found here….
(4) NEW VOICE IN ANALOG. Rosemary Claire Smith’s first installment of Analog’s book review column, “The Reference Library”, appeared in the latest issue. (Via Cat Rambo.)
…Thankfully, while awaiting the next crewed mission to the Moon, readers like me can sink into a spate of new books that build on recent scientific discoveries and technological advances to reenvision what off-planet settlements could look like during this century and into the next. John Kessel, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Maurice Broaddus put forward diverse, well-thought-out visions for lunar settlements and communities of varying sizes in space, mindful of the ramifications these developments may have for everyone who remains on Earth. …
Trump-allied lawyer Sidney Powell sent Fox an email full of wild claims from a woman claiming to be a decapitated time-traveler, according to a recent court filing.
Excerpts of the message formed part of a filing from Dominion Voting Systems released on Thursday in its defamation case against Fox….
(6) PERISHO OBITUARY. The SFWA Blog yesterday mourned the passing of Marjorie Nelson Perisho who died December 29. Their tribute begins:
Marjorie Nelson Perisho (24 June 1939–29 December 2022), who also wrote under the names Marjorie Nelson and Majliss Larson, was a lifetime SFWA member. Her Star Trek novel Pawns and Symbols, was published in 1985 and later translated into Serbian….
(7) MEMORY LANE.
1962 – [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
So what is our Beginning this Scroll? Well it’s A Clockwork Orange.
I read this novel by Burgess oddly enough in a high school literature class. Brave teacher, I’d say.
It was published sixty-one years ago by William Heinemann, and turned into the Kubrick film nine years later. The film won a Hugo at the first L.A. Con.
A true first goes for four thousand dollars currently.
Now A Clockwork Orange to me, and this is emphasized in this Beginning, represent the banality of Evil. Anthony Burgess makes the lads sound so, well, ordinary here. They’re just drinking milk. Drugged out milk, yes, but milk none the less. And planning to do vicious things.
So here’s our Beginning…
What’s it going to be then, eh?’ There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry. The Korova Milkbar was a milk-plus mesto, and you may, O my brothers, have forgotten what these mestos were like, things changing so skorry these days and everybody very quick to forget, newspapers not being read much neither. Well, what they sold there was milk plus something else. They had no licence for selling liquor, but there was no law yet against prodding some of the new veshches which they used to put into the old moloko, so you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches which would give you a nice quiet horrorshow fifteen minutes admiring Bog And All His Holy Angels And Saints in your left shoe with lights bursting all over your mozg. Or you could peet milk with knives in it, as we used to say, and this would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of dirty twenty-to-one, and that was what we were peeting this evening I’m starting off the story with.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 17, 1912 — Andre Norton. She penned well over a dozen series, but her major series was Witch World which began rather appropriately with Witch World in 1963. The first six novels in that series were Ace Books paperback originals published in the Sixties. If you putting together the essential reading list of hers, what would be on it? (Died 2005.)
Born February 17, 1913 — David Duncan. Ascreenwriter and novelist who was twice nominated for Hugos, first at Seacon for writing the screenplay for The Time Machine, and at NyCon 3 for the same work on Fantastic Voyage. He also wrote Time Machine: The Journey Back sequel to The Time Machine. And he wrote The Outer Limits’ “The Human Factor” episode. (Died 1999.)
Born February 17, 1930 — Ruth Rendell, whose full name of Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann) is quite wonderful. I know her only as an English author of very superb thrillers and somewhat disturbing murder mysteries but ISFDB lists her as doing horror as well to my surprise in the form as three novels, to wit The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands and The Bridesmaid, plus a not inconsiderable amount of short fiction that is fantasy no doubt. She was also the editor of A Warning to the Curious: The Ghost Stories of M.R. James. (Died 2015.)
Born February 17, 1939 — Kathy Keeton. Founder and publisher of Omni. It was founded by her and her partner and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse. It would publish a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata”, Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” “and “Johnny Mnemonic” and George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” to name a few of the stories that appeared there. (Died 1997.)
Born February 17, 1947 — Bruce Gillespie, 76. He’s one of the major Australian SF fans and is best known for his long-running fanzine SF Commentary. Over the years, he’s published The Metaphysical Review, Steam Engine Time and is currently putting out Treasure. He was fan guest of honor at Aussiecon 3, the 57th Worldcon held in Melbourne in 1999.
Born February 17, 1954 — Don Coscarelli, 69. A film director, producer, and screenwriter best known for horror films. His credits include the Phantasm series, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep, the latter based a novella by Joe R. Lansdale whom I’ve met and who is a really nice person.
John Coxon has trauma, Alison Scott has poetry and Liz Batty hasn’t got Paramount+. We draft our picks for the Hugo Awards nominations in Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form before, er, picking some more things.
PEN America counted school book bans in the 2021-2022 school year and found an alarming 1,648 titles banned somewhere in the United States — the most comprehensive count of book bans to date. With some titles restricted in multiple places, the total count of book bans is more than 2,500.
The most banned books were primarily young adult or adult titles, but picture books for the youngest readers were not spared, with 317 titles banned. Several of the most banned picture books are nonfiction, including histories of civil rights and gay pride. Others are lighthearted fiction about animals or babies. Most feature a protagonist of color or characters who reflect the LGBTQ+ experience.
This is the list of the most banned picture books of the 2021-2022 school year, according to the PEN America Index of School Book Bans. For more on what kinds of bans are happening and where, see the full Banned in the USA report.
MOST BANNED PICTURE BOOKS
1 (tie). Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, by Rob Sanders and Steve Salerno, 5 bans
This true story traces the origins of of the Gay Pride flag from its beginnings in 1978 with activist Harvey Milk and designer Gilbert Baker.
1 (tie). I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas, 5 bans
The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of transgender activist Jazz Jennings.
1 (tie). And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson, and Henry Cole, 5 bans
The heartwarming true story of two male penguins at the Central Park zoo who adopt a baby penguin.
In celebration of his love for animation, Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro is set to program a weekend of animation for the American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica called “Guillermo del Toro’s Weekend of Animation.”
The films programmed by del Toro will include screenings of “The Red Turtle” and “I Lost My Body.”
The weekend of animation will open with the 2016 Studio Ghibli film, “The Red Turtle,” with del Toro virtually introducing the film. Following that, there will be a screening of the Netflix film “I Lost My Body.”
Sunday concludes with a 35mm screening of the Oscar-nominated film “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.” Del Toro and co-director Mark Gustafson will attend a post-screening Q&A….
(13) MANCON 1952. Rob Hansen has added pages covering the first Manchester con to his fanhistory website: “MANCON (1952)” at Fiawol.org.
…Next came the visiting celebrities. John Russell Fearn spoke first, and he turned out to be a very nice friendly sort of character. In answers to an absolute barrage of questions, he released the following information – He enjoys writing S.F. and has done so for about 25 years. The pseudonym Vargo Statten was his publisher’s idea, not his; he doesn’t like it, but as he’s under contract there’s nothing he can do. Astron del Martia is another of his names, but he only wrote one story under it, “The Trembling World’. The rest are not his. The Vargo Statten tales are turned out at the rate of three a month, each one comprising 40,000 words, taking eight days to write. It’s a full time job even when they are not accepted. He sometimes finds it difficult to find time for a shave….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. There’s quite a cast in “Extrapolations”, coming from Apple TV+ on March 17.
Extrapolations is a bracing drama from writer, director and executive producer Scott Z. Burns that introduces a near future where the chaotic effects of climate change have become embedded into our everyday lives. Eight interwoven stories about love, work, faith and family from across the globe will explore the intimate, life-altering choices that must be made when the planet is changing faster than the population. Every story is different, but the fight for our future is universal. And when the fate of humanity is up against a ticking clock, the battle between courage and complacency has never been more urgent. Are we brave enough to become the solution to our own undoing before it’s too late?
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Robert Brown, Rob Hansen, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat Eldridge.]
(1) FUND FOR PETER DAVID. A GoFundMe has been started on behalf of writer Peter David, who has many health problems and faces mounting bills. “Peter David Fund”.
I’m fundraising for author Peter David and his family. He’s had some compounded health problems, and the bills are piling up! On top of kidney failure, and the steep medical bills incurred from that, he just had another series of strokes AND a mild heart attack.
As we wish him a swift recovery, and send our love and support to his wife Kathleen and his family, let’s also pitch in and help with their medical bills and living expenses.
Please give what you can to relieve some of the immense stress that this family is going through right now.
On behalf of Peter, Kathleen, and the whole family, thank you!
The appeal had brought in $51,725 from 1100+ donors at the time this was written.
The past few months have been among the most tumultuous in Arisia’s long history. After the loss of our conchair Jodie Lawhorne, two people stepped up to complete his work. In late October we learned about a serious incident involving one of our volunteers that was reported but never written down many years ago. The individual was put through our current more robust incident response protocol and was subsequently banned from all future participation in Arisia. We also learned that the acting con chairs had had knowledge of this and despite that, had consulted with this individual about volunteering for Arisia 2023. Between that information, and increasing levels of unrelated personal stress on those acting con chairs, it was determined that it was best for all parties for them to step down. Where that left us was 7 weeks out from a convention with no one in charge. I reached out to the e-board and offered to fill in the gap.
So hi, my name is Melissa Kaplan and I’ll be your acting con chair for the next 6.5 weeks….
(3) WILLIS X 2. Dave Langford and Rob Hansen have assembled TAWF Times Two: The 1962 Trip Reportsby Walt and Madeleine Willis into a book and made it available in multiple formats at the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s website, where they hope you’ll make a little donation to the fund if you please.
The Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund (TAWF) was organized to bring Walt Willis – this time with his wife Madeleine – to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, ten years after the fan initiative that brought Walt alone to the 1952 Worldcon also held in Chicago. Both wrote trip reports: Walt’s was serialized in various fanzines and eventually collected as Twice Upon a Time in the monumental Warhoon #28 (1980) edited by Richard Bergeron. Madeleine’s instalments of The DisTAWF Side appeared in The SpeleoBem edited by Bruce Pelz, and have never until now been collected.
For this ebook, Rob Hansen has digitized Madeleine’s chapters, expanded them with comments and corrections from others (plus an unpublished letter from Walt and another from Madeleine) and written a new Foreword covering both reports. David Langford had the easier task of extracting Twice Upon a Time from Warhoon #28, unscrambling dates, correcting typos and restoring a fragment of lost text. Scans of all the original fanzine appearances at Fanac.org were a great help to both of us.
Released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 December 2022. Cover photo of the Willises in 1957 from the collection of Norman Shorrock, probably taken by Peter West. Over 87,000 words.
When a Broadway show closes, the next stop for the hundreds of costumes, setpieces and props is often … the dumpster.
“The producers often stop paying rent in a storage unit somewhere, which is heartbreaking,” said Julie Boardman, one of the founders of the Museum of Broadway, which opened in Times Square this month.
Boardman, 40, a Broadway producer whose shows include “Funny Girl” and “Company,” and Diane Nicoletti, the founder of a marketing agency, are looking to reroute those items to their museum, a dream five years in the making.
“We see it as an experiential, interactive museum that tells the story of Broadway through costumes, props and artifacts,” Nicoletti, 40, said of the four-floor, 26,000-square-foot space on West 45th Street, next to the Lyceum Theater….
‘Phantom of the Opera’ Chandelier Installation
Each of the 13,917 glistening crystals in this piece, which were fashioned by the German artist Ulli Böhmelmann into hanging strands, is meant to represent one performance the Broadway production of “The Phantom of the Opera” will have played from its opening on Jan. 26, 1988, through its closing night performance. Though the final show was originally set for Feb. 18, 2023, the production announced Tuesday that it had been pushed to April 16 amid strong ticket sales (Böhmelmann plans to add the necessary crystals).
‘Avenue Q’ Puppets
In the early days of the 2003 Broadway production of the puppet-filled musical comedy “Avenue Q,” the show’s low budget meant the puppeteers had to put their charges through quick changes. The show initially had only three Princeton puppets — but he had eight costumes — meaning the puppets took a beating from changing clothes multiple times eight shows a week. “Eventually, they had a puppet for every costume,” McDonald said.
Gershwin Theater Set Model
This scale model, which is just over five feet wide, was designed by Edward Pierce, the associate scenic designer of the original Broadway production of “Wicked,” and took four people seven weeks to build. It includes more than 300 individual characters — and another 300 seated audience members in the auditorium. (See if you can find the Easter egg: a small model of the set model, with the designers — who look like the actual designers — showing the director a future design for “Wicked.”)
The world’s first literature is speculative poetry.
We told each other stories and encoded them in the form of verse. The earliest written literature is poetry – The Story of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and Odyssey, The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Beowulf and other npoem myths, verse histories and tellings in cultures across and around the world.
I had an epiphany about speculative poetry.
It was there from the start, in my womb and my heart….
(6) PROBABLY AN ANNIVERSARY. “Hitchhiker’s at 42” and 3 Quarks Daily is celebrating. Because something to do with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy happened forty-two years ago. Didn’t it?
… To document the broader cultural impact of Hitchhiker’s, we’ve asked a number of public figures in science, the arts, the humanities, and government to reflect on how the book changed their own understanding of life, the universe, and everything.
“The Hitchhiker series taught me to laugh at the absurd, to mock self-proclaimed genius, to put off searching for the meaning of life in favor of play, and to oppose time travel on the ground that proper tense usage would become too difficult. It also prepared me to understand that some Albany politicians are like Vogons, insofar as neither are above corruption in the same way that the ocean is not above the sky. And it made 42 my favorite number.” –Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and host of Stay Tuned and Doing Justice…
(7) FREE READ. Congratulations to Cora Buhlert, who has a new short story “Legacy of Steel” in the November 2022 issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. The other stories in the issue are “Sun in Shadow” by Sandra Unerman and “You Stand Before the Black Tower” by Nathaniel Webb.
…I have had some new arrivals recently, including at long last King Randor, which opens up a lot of possibilities for stories involving the royal family of Eternia.
One thing that is remarkably consistent over all versions of Masters of the Universe from the early mini-comics via the Filmation cartoon of the 1980s, the 2002 cartoon, the various comics, Masters of the Universe: Revelation all the way to the Netflix CGI show is that Prince Adam has a strained relationship with his father King Randor. Cause Randor always finds something to criticise about his son and heir. Adam is too lazy, too irresponsible, not princely enough, not interested enough in affairs of state, not heroic enough, too foolhardy and he also missed dinner or an official reception, because he was off saving Eternia….
…While stretching my hands into claws, I hunt my memory. Have I ever felt talons grow from my fingertips? Do I know the twinge of lupine hair breaking my burning, blossoming skin? How does the paradigm of meaning-making shift when I find I can smell more keenly than I can see? In all these years, have I come closer to knowing?
You might suggest I use writing to account for these questions. Documenting my thoughts about them in a field journal—“May 26: I think I smelled a pig at one mile today.” Nope. I’ve no werewolf archive. There are a few poems, sure; yet they skin the lycanthrope to cover and do some other thing. Those poems, they are not telling you what I am telling you: that I have meant to be a werewolf, and that this has been, I’m afraid, a quiet, lifelong ambition, a discipline I’ve maintained longer and to less purpose, it would seem, than nearly all else….
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1998 — [By Cat Eldridge.] Hobbit holes (New Zealand)
Stop me before this gets novella length!
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. — The Hobbit
Only one of the movie sets in New Zealand survives and charmingly enough it’s the village where the hobbits resided. It was used for both trilogies and quite unsurprisingly is now a place with guided tours being offered every day.
Jackson spotted it during a search by air for suitable locations using one of his airplanes, or so the story is now told, and thought it looked like a slice of England. Furthermore Alan Lee commented to him that the location’s terrain “looked as though Hobbits had already begun excavations” there.
It became Hobbiton and the Shire with the facades of quite a few hobbit holes and associated gardens, a double arch bridge, hedges, and a mill. They erected an immense oak above Bag End that had been growing nearby and which was cut down and recreated in fibreglass on site complete with artificial leaves.
When I mean facades, I really mean just that. It’s not possible to go inside the as there is nothing inside them, just retaining walls and beyond that dirt. I’m guessing that the site is going to need expensive ongoing maintenance if it is going to survive long term.
Bag End is the exception as they designed it so a little bit of interior has been designed to seen and the door will open so you can peek in.
About those hobbit holes. No, the interior scenes for Bag End weren’t not shot here. (Of course they’d make lousy film sets, wouldn’t they? You can’t get cameras in there.) The interior of Bag End was shot in a studio in Wellington. Ok, there are actually two Bag Ends as Ian McKelllen explains on his charming look at these:
Hobbits must appear smaller than the other characters in the film. When I, as Gandalf, meet Bilbo or Frodo at home, I bump my head on the rafters. (Tolkien didn’t think to mention it!) So there is a small Bag End set with small props to match.
As Ian Holm and Elijah Wood would be too big within it, they have “scale doubles” who are of a matching size with the scenery and its miniature furniture. In the small set Bilbo and Frodo are played by Kiran Shah (Legend) who is in hobbit proportion to my Gandalf.
And of course there has to be a big Bag End, where the scale is human-sized and all the objects of the small set are duplicated but bigger. There the “hero actors” can play the hobbits but the camera expects a gigantic Gandalf and gets him in Paul Webster (a 7’4″ Wellingtonian) who substitutes for me.
So we’ve got a village full of hobbit hole facades that all look very charming as you can see here and you’ve got the rather amazing effect of creating the illusion of a hobbit hole interior that we can all think is real. I certainly did when I watched the first Hobbit film. I may not have cared for the film itself, but oh my the scenery and the depiction of Bag End was stellar!
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 30, 1835 — Mark Twain. It’s been decades since I read it but I still know I loved A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His other genre work is The Mysterious Stranger in which Satan might be visiting us went unpublished in his lifetime and it’s only relatively recently published with the University of California Press editions of all his completed and uncompleted versions in one volume that a reader can see what he intended. (Died 1910.)
Born November 30, 1893 — E. Everett Evans. Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Member of First Fandom who started out with fan writing, but eventually became a published genre author as well. He helped to found the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and served as its president and editor of its publication. Food for Demons was a chapbook compilation of his fantasy tales, though he was generally not considered to be a good fiction writer. Fandom’s Big Heart Award, which was founded by Forrest J Ackerman in 1959, was named for him for its first 40 years. In 2018, Bob Tucker’s fanzine Le Zombie, of which he had co-edited two issues, won a Retro Hugo Award. (Died 1958.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1906 — John Dickson Carr. Author of the Gideon Fell detective stories, some of which were decidedly genre adjacent and The Lost Gallows is apparently genre. The Burning Court with Fell is on this list as are his vampire mythos backstoried novels, Three Coffins and He Who Whispers. And I really should note his Sir Henry Merrivale character has at one genre outing in Reader is Warned. The usual suspects have a more than decent stock of his offerings. (Died 1977.)
Born November 30, 1950 — Chris Claremont, 72. Writer in the comic realm. Best known for his astounding twenty year run on the Uncanny X-Men starting in 1976. During his tenure at Marvel, he co-created at least forty characters. Looking at his bibliography, I see that he did Sovereign Seven as a creator own series with DC publishing it. And then there’s the matter of Lucas providing the notes for The Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy to follow the Willow film and then contracting our writer to make them exist. Anyone ever encountered these?
Born November 30, 1952 — Debra Doyle. Writer, Filker, and Fan. Her novel Knight’s Wyrd, co-written with her husband and collaborator James D. Macdonald, won a Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature. Most of their co-written works are fantasy, but their Mageworlds series also crosses into space opera territory. As filker Malkin Grey, she and Pergyn Wyndryder won a Pegasus Award for Best Historical Song. She was an instructor at the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop, and has been Guest of Honor at several conventions. (Died 2020.) (JJ)
Born November 30, 1955 — Kevin Conroy. Frell, another great one lost too soon. Without doubt, best known for voicing Batman onBatman: The Animated Series and many other DCU series. On Justice League Action, the other characters often noting his stoic personality. I’ve not seen it, but on Batwoman, he plays Bruce Wayne in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” episode. (Died 2022.)
Born November 30, 1952 — Jill Eastlake, 70. IT Manager, Costumer, Conrunner, and Fan who is known for her elaborate and fantastical costume designs; her costume group won “Best in Show” at the 2004 Worldcon. A member of fandom for more than 50 years, she belonged to her high school’s SF club, then became an early member of NESFA, the Boston-area fan club, and served as its president for 4 years. She has served on the committees for numerous Worldcons and regional conventions, co-chaired a Costume-Con, and chaired two Boskones. She was the Hugo Award ceremony coordinator for the 1992 Worldcon, and has run the Masquerade for numerous conventions. Her extensive contributions were honored when she was named a Fellow of NESFA in 1976, and in 2011 the International Costumer’s Guild presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She and her fan husband Don (who is irrationally fond of running WSFS Business Meetings) were Fan Guests of Honor at Rivercon.
Born November 30, 1957 — Martin Morse Wooster. He discovered fandom in 1974 when he heard about “a big sci-fi con” in downtown Washington where admission was $10 at the door. He had ten bucks, and so attended Discon II at 16. A year later, he discovered fanzines through Don Miller, and discovered he liked writing book reviews. He started contributing to File 770 in 1978 and continued for the rest of his life. He was one of twelve founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, which split from the Washington Science Fiction Association in 1975, and regularly attends PRSFS meetings to discuss books. Lost his life to a hit-and-run driver on November 12. (Died 2022.) (JJ)
Passengers on board a United Airlines commercial jet flying over Florida’s Cape Canaveral were able to spot an amazingly rare sight in the distance: a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, far below….
Bill Mumy has worked with some of the most celebrated filmmakers in Hollywood history – but not all of his experiences were out of this world.
The former child star, who made his mark in the ‘60s series “Lost in Space,” has recently written a memoir titled “Danger, Will Robinson: The Full Mumy.” In it, he details his rise to stardom and the numerous encounters he had with TV and film icons along the way – including Alfred Hitchcock.
Mumy worked with the filmmaker in the TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” for the episode “Bang! You’re Dead!”. It was filmed in the summer of 1961 when Mumy was 7 years old….
Wolves infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii are far more likely to become pack leaders than uninfected wolves and are also more likely to disperse from the pack they’re born into, a study published November 24 in Communications Biology reports. The finding points to a possible connection between the infamous parasite and wolf population health.
Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a “mind control” parasite that can infect any warm-blooded animal, the paper states. The protozoan can only reproduce sexually in the guts of cats, and often spreads through contact with infected feline feces. Infection with T. gondii causes hosts to accrue permanent brain cysts and also induces toxoplasmosis, a disease that can embolden some host species, causing infected animals to seek out more situations in which they can transmit the parasite. Mice infected with T. gondiilose their fear of cat urine, for example, making them more likely to be killed and eaten by a cat, enabling the parasite to reproduce once again…
…The film, which was released in 1982, was written by Melissa Matheson, whom Ford was dating at the time. During a 2012 reunion for the film, actor Henry Thomas, who played the main character, Elliott, told Entertainment Weekly that he was just excited at the prospect of meeting Ford.
“When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas said. “I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”
Ford eventually agreed to shoot a cameo scene with Thomas, playing an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the famous frog escape scene, in which Elliott would also kiss a girl in his class. Spielberg also spoke about the cameo in an interview with EW: “He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs. Elliott is in the principal’s office after the frog incident. We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”…
(16) VIDEO OF A PREVIOUS DAY. A short clip from Futurama illustrates why, “In the end, it was not guns or bombs that defeated the aliens, but that humblest of all God’s creatures, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.”
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Standback, Rich Lynch, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rick Moen.]